Jan. PTSA Meeting: Updates from Principal Hart, Sen. Pedersen

Principal Tarance Hart discussed Garfield’s evolving approach to addressing the needs of each student at the Jan. 9 PTSA Board online meeting, which also featured guest speaker State Sen. Jamie Pedersen.

Sen. Pedersen, a 43rd District Democrat and Garfield parent, offered ideas on how the community could influence legislators’ actions on education and other issues.

Dr. Hart also:

  • Expressed excitement about the school’s first Parent-Teacher Conference Day on Jan. 10. Administrators will seek feedback on how this event can be most effective and inclusive in the future.
  • Has assigned new Interim Assistant Principal Jannette Manuel to review GHS emergency procedures for when an incident may warrant a shelter-in-place, lockdown or other measures. He emphasized that the school will develop a plan for after the school day. “We recognize the need to respond,” he said, noting that students will learn more about the procedures during Advisory periods.
  • Announced he plans to establish a Student/Family Safety Advisory Group. Dr. Hart also hopes to establish a formal partnership with Community Passageways, the nonprofit that works on preventing violence by establishing a visible presence in communities. The organization sometimes has staff in place near Garfield.
  • Introduced new Volunteer Coordinator Jhitana Ball, who is rebuilding the volunteer pool. She asked that the PTSA begin to promote the new signup form that lists a number of opportunities.

In discussing new approaches to instruction, Dr. Hart noted that GHS has a new “universal screener” to identify students who need tutoring or other interventions in Language Arts or Math. The screener is a test that takes just 15 minutes, and is expected to be used three times a year. The new test is far better at showing learning gaps than state standardized tests (SBAC) or grades, he said. Dr. Hart also is seeking to elevate the quality and cultural responsiveness of instruction.

Dr. Hart discussed the ongoing implementation of PBIS — Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports — the system that is best known for offering up Bulldog Bucks as a reward for various achievements. He said that PBIS, while including rewards, sets expectations and standards, and reinforces as well as enforces them. He said the Bulldog Bucks program has met with mixed success, and needs more time for buy-in (staff as well as students).

Sen. Pedersen provided an overview of how the Legislature might approach education issues this year. Special education is the most likely area to see more funding, along with transportation and the universally free lunch program.

He also advised that while emails and other communications may catch some legislators’ attention, students can be the real influencers, especially when they offer testimony to legislative committees. He also said he hopes more Seattle students apply to become Senate and House pages.

In other PTSA business:

  • Co-Treasurer Parry Schmeichel and Annual Fund Co-Chair Katrina Hawking reported that the Annual Fund has topped the $110,000 mark and is well ahead of the 2022 pace. Schmeichel noted the generosity of many people earmarking donations for PTSA-staff collaboration on supporting families in need with gift cards.
  • Grade 9 Rep Sarah Bruemmer is leading the PTSA’s planning for a Jan. 20 social event intended to bring together parents and alumni during an afternoon of basketball games in the Garfield Gym. Details are to come soon.